What is M.E.Ch.A.?

    M.E.Ch.A. is an acronym for Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan. M.E.Ch.A. is much more than a club. As a National student organization M.E.Ch.A. unites Chicano students in their quest to enhance the development of La Raza through education. M.E.Ch.A. believes that political involvement and education constitute the avenue for change in our society. M.E.Ch.A. is a focused organization of committed leaders and members who are role models for our community. M.E.Ch.A. builds and demonstrates strong character in mind and body to accomplish change in attitudes and behavior of our families, friends, and leaders.

What does the word Chican@ mean?

     The word Chicana/o is derived from the Mexica (me-SHI-ka). The Mexica migrated from Aztlan, from the present-day Western United States, to Tenochtitlan, or present-day Mexico. The word means "people of the earth". Dr. Betita Martinez, a current activist and late friend of Cesar Chavez, speaks of the word Chican@ as an identification that can be assumed by all peoples of all colors; all people are born of the earth and innate dignity of history and culture. Chican@ is also an identity many Americans of Mexican or mestizo descent have assumed in order to recognize their indigeneity in the United States.
    Chicanismo is the bond experienced by all members of M.E.Ch.A. Chicanismo is carnalismo: the responsibility and commitment to all Chican@ brothers and sisters throughout the university and community regardless of their age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or nationality. Chicanismo further implies having respect for Chican@ history, Chican@ culture and values. Therefore, the term Chican@ is grounded in a philosophy not nationality. To be Chican@ is not a birthright, rather it is a state of mind.

What is Aztlan?

    Aztlan was the homeland of the Mexica. Geographically it is the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. Today we understand Aztlan not as a defined territory. Instead, it is an idea that unifies all Raza as a sacred place of origin, to which Raza espouse a physical connection. Aztlan is the common homeland and is the place of the collective experience and social praxis. Raza communities, barrios, and colonias, share similar problems such as poverty, a need for bilingual and culturally-relevant education, and constant vigilance against racism, amongst others.

What are M.E.Ch.A.'s goals?

  1. To affirm and celebrate diversity amongst M.E.Ch.A. members. This affirmation and celebration is significant in the development of positive and strong cultural identity among Raza students.
  2. To involve students in discussing and acting on social-political issues relevant to our communities. Political activism is significant in producing civic-minded youth and leaders in our communities.
  3. To develop leadership among students. Opportunities for group dynamics, planning, staging of organizational activities, leadership development shape our collective success, while skills obtained are transferable to other environmental settings.
  4. To promote academic achievement and completion. M.E.Ch.A. strongly believes that the self-determination of our community is based on an educated community.
  5. To build a sense of carnalismo among Chican@s and all students on our campus and in the community.
  6. To provide opportunities for local, regional and national high school and college students to share and be connected with UA M.E.Ch.A.
  7. To educate ourselves and others about Chican@ culture, history, traditions and accomplishments.
  8. To build relationships with youth and serve as a bridge between high school and college-aged students.

What can I gain by participating in M.E.Ch.A.?

    M.E.Ch.A. is training ground for leadership. Through participation and coordination of M.E.Ch.A. events, members gain invaluable leadership skills. Mechistas also have the privilege of helping fellow students and the community in addition to creating a sense of identity and empowerment. Participating in M.E.Ch.A is a learning and fulfilling experience that develops political consciousness, critical-mindedness, activism, carnalismo, and indigenous and communal creationism.

How was M.E.Ch.A. created?

    The Chican@ Movement of the late 1960's sparked cultural and historic pride in our people. Chican@s demanded to be treated as equals, denounced acculturation and assimilation, and sought political autonomy and self-determination. Chican@s expressed their pride through poetry, literature, art and theater.
    In March of 1969 the Crusade for Justice organized the first National Chicano Youth Conference in Denver, Colorado. At this conference the Plan de Aztlan was drafted; this gave way to the Chican@ Movement. This document asserts Chican@s must work in directive action to better the conditions of their communities.
    Following the National Chicano Youth Conference, in April of 1969, over 100 Chican@s met together at the University of California Santa Barbara to formulate a plan for higher education: El Plan de Santa Barbara. With this document they were successful in the development of two important contributions to the Chican@ Movement: M.E.Ch.A. and Chican@ Studies.
    The contributions of the Chican@ Movement are numerous and continue to be valued in our society today.

What are M.E.Ch.A.'s guiding documents and how is M.E.Ch.A. organized?

    Each chapter is governed by its respective, central, regional, state wide, and National M.E.Ch.A. constitutions as well as the Philosophy of M.E.Ch.A.

    The macroscopic structure of M.E.Ch.A. is as follows:
  1. Mechista - An individual who adopts the philosophies of M.E.Ch.A.
  2. Chapter - The group of Mechistas at a particular campus that work together.
  3. Central - A collection of chapters in a particular area or community.
  4. Region - A collection of Chapters/Centrales in a particular area or state/s. The ten regions include Alta Califas Norte, Alta Califas Sur, Calpolli Montanas del Norte, Centro Aztlan, Centro Califas, Este Aztlan, Mictlampa Chiuatlampa, Midwest, Pacific Midwest, and Southeast Tejaztlan.
  5. National - The ten different regions compose our National M.E.Ch.A.

What is M.E.Ch.A. like today at the U of A?

    Raza face many of the same problems as the 1970's: Chican@ junior high, high school and college push-out rates have risen since 1969, forcing many Chican@s to life in poverty. These factors along with growing right- wing sentiment have combined to create greater hardships for Chican@s. Repressive and racist immigration laws are continuously directed at Raza. Given this context M.E.Ch.A sojourns its spirit of activism directly in the Tucson community, to work intimately in the barrio and schools.

How do I become a member of UA M.E.Ch.A.?

    The qualifications of membership are as listed by the Constitution:
  1. Members must participate in either 1/3 of the meetings per semester or in two fundraiser's per year.
  2. Any registered student of the University of Arizona is eligible to be an active member and may hold office.
  3. Non-students may act as associate members, but may not vote or hold office.
  4. Members must read an orientation packet provided by exclusive board officers.

In what activities does M.E.Ch.A. participate?

  • Youth Empowerment Conference
  • Cesar Chavez Holiday Coalition
  • National Conference
  • Club Fairs
  • Community events
  • Juntos
  • Underground Hip Hop Concerts
  • Spring Fling
  • Mentoring
  • Retreats
  • Family Nights
  • Intramural Sports
  • Viva Tucson